Prisons

Not on Max Baucus's Watch. No Way.

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What happens when municipal fiscal woes, the war on terrorism, and the recession collide in fly-over country?

Hardin, Montana, and Manistique, Michigan, have two problems in common: not enough jobs and a prison sitting empty nearby. Enter Obama. The President's (imperiled) plan to close the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, before January of next year presented a potential solution. All those detainees needed a new home, so a few enterprising souls in Hardin and Manistique hatched an idea: Move the detainees into their prisons. The ailing towns would get jobs and a substantial chunk of revenue from the federal government, the expensive prisons would get put to use, and Harry Reid would no longer be forced to release every captured member of Al Qaeda directly into your neighborhood.  

Sounds like a decent plan, until you ask some local politicians. First, Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) on the Hardin proposal:

There is opposition to the Gitmo resettlement plan. Some locals have complained bitterly and other politicians in Montana have expressed deep reservations. "We're not going to bring al-Qaida to Big Sky country. No way. Not on my watch," a local senator, Max Baucus, told Time magazine.

Next, Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI/Twitter) says that moving the detainees to Michigan is a "really bad idea." Other local pols echo his concern, including Michigan's Secretary of State and Attorney General.

In fairness, these politicians sound no dumber than some of the decidedly anti-terrorists-in-my-backyard citizens who were asked to comment. Check Manistique resident David Vaughn's measured reaction (in the same article as Hoekstra):

"I think it is an ill-conceived idea. Why would we want to bring more terrorists into our country? Who's to say the relatives of these people wouldn't come over?" 

Meanwhile, Florence, Colorado, home to more than 300 terrorists, wouldn't mind accomodating a few more.  

A couple of weeks ago, I noted the first stateside transfer of a Gitmo detainee. Reason Senior Editor Jacob Sullum tore apart the logic behind the Guantanamo "state of mind" back in January.

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  1. I’ve got a room above my garage that can hold 2, maybe 3, terrorists.

  2. What we need are Canadian gulags.

  3. They have to start dismantling these fucking prisons. MJ legalization is looking more and more like it has a chance, and if it happens (or even just decrim), the prison population will plummet.

    I’ve always been horrified by towns like these and ones in upstate NY where certain towns’ entire economies revolve around imprisoning people.

    Instead of “my dad worked at the mill, his dad worked at the mill, and I’m gonna work at the mill”, it’s “my dad beat prisoners and put them in the hole, his dad beat prisoners and put them in the hole, and I’m gonna beat prisoners and put them in the hole.”

  4. I haven’t really been paying attention to the Hardin story; I think the prison was built originally as a profit-making enterprise, to take in the overflow from other jails around the state. Apparently, they didn’t bother to find out if their clever scheme was actually legal until after the damn thing was built. Now they have this gigantic albatross hanging around their necks, and they’re trying to find something to do with it.

    I think they should send the people from Gitmo to Hackensack, New Jersey.

  5. That’s a terrible idea, P Brooks. Haven’t those inmates been tortured enough?

  6. Since the 13th Amendment allows us to enslave prisoners, how about enslaving the terrorist detainees? They could all work for Government Motors.

    . . .unless that would offend the unions.

  7. I actually agree that we should not bring any of the Gitmoids into this country.

    They should be tried before some kind of military tribunal. Any found guilty of war crimes, such as engaging in hostilities as an illegal combatant (as I believe most would be) should be shot.

    If found not guilty of war crimes, they should be transported back to wherever we picked them up and released with a pocket full of cash. If Afghanistan or Iraq doesn’t want them running around loose, they can arrest them and do what they want with them.

  8. They could turn the empty prison into sec.8 housing for the lazy welfare recipients. Hell, thats where most of em are headed anyways.

  9. “Who’s to say the relatives of these people wouldn’t come over?” – David Vaughn of Manistique

    Are you sure they aren’t already in Dearborn?

    Kevin

  10. “They could turn the empty prison into sec.8 housing for the lazy welfare recipients. Hell, thats where most of em are headed anyways.”

    :golf clap:

    I’m using this line.

  11. “They have to start dismantling these fucking prisons. MJ legalization is looking more and more like it has a chance, and if it happens (or even just decrim), the prison population will plummet.”

    I do not know, nor have I ever known or even heard of anyone who is in jail for MJ. I have come to beleive it’s a fairy tale.

  12. I do not know, nor have I ever known or even heard of anyone who is in jail for MJ.

    Well, there are dealers, first of all. Secondly, under three strikes laws one could have two priors and then get busted for MJ, and end up in prison, whereas if MJ had been legal, that wouldn’t be the case.

    A regular guy with three joints in his pocket is not going to the big house, no.

  13. I can keep a few in my basement. “It doesn’t get the food unless it puts on the lotion”.

  14. As I’ve stated before, putting these detainees in our prisons is cruel and unusual punishment that will shorten their life spans considerably. Child rapists/molesters life expectantcy drops dramatically after being sentenced. Expect the same for the detainees. When the local prison population gets tired of beating the shit out of them and raping them, they’ll be shanked.

  15. Excellent idea, Naga! We’ll let the prison population form ad hoc tribunals to determine the fates of these detainees.

    Problem solved!

  16. Speaking of scenic! Hardin, it’s that time of year, again. The redskins re-enactors are massing at the Little Big horn in anticipation of the arrival of the Seventh Cavalry. I won’t be there; I have a pretty good idea who’ll come out on top.

  17. There is precedent that anywhere that takes these guys will face terrorist attacks. Al Queda and other muslim fanatics have attacked prisons in the past.

    I say put them in Alaska. Make them sand-lovers trek through the snow.

  18. Instead of “my dad worked at the mill, his dad worked at the mill, and I’m gonna work at the mill”, it’s “my dad beat prisoners and put them in the hole, his dad beat prisoners and put them in the hole, and I’m gonna beat prisoners and put them in the hole.”

    What Mario Cuomo is mostly remember for in New York State. “My parents came from Italy, opened a store, put me through college, I was elected, and then I enslaved most of the black men downstate for 2 to 4 and ruined their economic prospects for the rest of their lives”

    And his douche son is looking to repeat his dad’s policy.

  19. “The redskins re-enactors are massing at the Little Big horn in anticipation of the arrival of the Seventh Cavalry. I won’t be there; I have a pretty good idea who’ll come out on top.”

    I was there a few years ago for the aftermath; my cousins and I spent the whole time at the bar.

    I have to agree with RC Dean; the prisoners should be tried and either sentenced to a military jail or released, not kept indefinitely in a jail cell or shipped to private prisons across America.

  20. “The redskins re-enactors are massing at the Little Big horn in anticipation of the arrival of the Seventh Cavalry. I won’t be there; I have a pretty good idea who’ll come out on top.”

    Reminds me of the bumper sticker on the big indian’s pickup in “Electric Koolaid Acid Test”

    Custer died for your sins.

  21. “Now, of course, the Civil War has been over for about 120 years, but not so you’d really notice it, because we still have these people called Civil War buffs, people who thought it was a really keen war, and they study the battles carefully, and they try to improve on the strategies and the tactics to increase the body count, in case we have to go through it again sometime. In fact, some of these people actually get dressed up in uniform once a year and go out and refight these battles. You know what I say? Use live ammunition, fucker, would you please? You might just raise the intelligence level of the American gene pool.”

  22. Reason has duplicated the efforts of the national media to turn the true story of Hardin into shallow crap.

    Your correspondent “P. Brooks” has it far more accurate than Reason does.

    The Hardin low security prison was built to enrich some of Reason’s favorites, a bunch of Texas spec for-profit prison entrepeneurs. They got away with millions. It wasn’t ever legal and it’s hard to imagine that they didn’t know it, but they aren’t the ones responsible for paying the bills they ran up. The Hardin city fathers, rubes and hoosiers who got suckered by the scam, are still too stupid to figure out they’ve been gulled. The town’s industrial authority bonds have been in default for 14 months. The jail has been complete for two years without ever holding a prisoner. It would have been staffed with $7 a hour, high-turnover guards that Reason likes to imagine are somehow competent. Even open, it would have been a drain on the local economy.

    Camp Manistique is a closed minimum security prison that was sacrificed to a budget crunch. While it served and still should serve a useful purpose, low-cost incarceration for low-level offenders, Michigan opted instead to keep high-cost, higher security facilities open. The correctional officers at the camp were at least well-trained and paid a living wage.

    Neither prison is capable of holding medium-security, close or maximum prisoners, by any stretch of local boosters’ fevered imaginations.

    Half the 2.5 million prisoners in the US are in for drug-related offenses. While Reason supports decriminalization it neatly compartmentalizes that agenda away from the fact that the for-profit prison industry has “successfully” worked long and hard to increase the numbers of prisons and prisoners, reaching insatiably for more market and more market share.

    After all, Reason is funded by pro-privatization (and anti-tax) philanthropists such as the Kochs, and by the for-profit prison industry itself. It produces non-peer reviewed public relations pretending to be “research” to back what is the actual pro-drug war agenda.

    Adept at believing two wholly contradictory things, Reason’s corporate management is probably in no danger of cerebral explosions.

    I agree with some of your posters that there aren’t many prisoners, comparatively, in for marijuana offenses. However, simple possession is in my opinion a “gateway” offense, leading to a lifetime of involvement with the criminal justice system.

  23. Good thing I have my sponsor on speed dial.

  24. I should also note that unlike many of your robotic posters who write about issues regarding which they have little or no clue, experts would probably agree that I know as much or more about the sordid for-profit prison industry than anyone in the world. I’ve studied it intensively for 13 years.

    I also know a great deal about the broader criminal justice system. I spent Saturday with correctional officers in Florence, Colorado, at the site of the Supermax. They are capable of holding any prisoners they are given, but they are hindered by the fact that they have a Director of the Bureau of Prisons, Harley Lappin, who treats employees with as little regard as his counterparts in the for-profit sector. In Florence, officers were forced into arbitration over a simple issue: Lappin didn’t want to pay them for the whole shifts which they worked.

    Reason favorite Corrections Corporation of America is involved in a similar class action in all of its 64 owned or operated facilities around the U.S. at the moment, with a settlement having been negotiated. It deliberately shafted low-paid employees for years and the settlement only covers their failures over the past three, due to the statute of limitations. It will pay only those workers who have the courage to ask for the money due them. Not that many years ago, it settled a similar suit in California for a million bucks and its largest competitor, GEO Group (formerly Wackenhut Corrections) settled one for $10 million in that state.

    The Florence C.O.s who were shorted were offered and took 20 cents on the dollar to settle their arbitration, but it came to $4,000 each. By contrast, the CCA guards will get at most about $400 each. CCA corporate and its millionaire executives are laughing all the way to the bank.

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